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Project: Star Wars Coin Purse

I’m really proud of this creation which is an admission that I’m not always prepared to make. The idea came about when I saw some acrylic resin purse clasps on Ebay back in September. They were made in China at a very low cost so I took the risk and ordered one to see what they were like. Then I forgot about it. Fast forward 3 months, this suddenly turned up on my doorstep (yes it took that long) and I was extremely impressed with the quality of it. It has the feel of something 3D printed but it very smooth with a beautiful soft finish. The frame is sturdy and would withstand repeated use which is obviously important.

The finished coin purse using the imported acrylic resin clasp.

Fast forward again and its January. I have a craft fair in the first week of March, so I decide that more of these frames would be perfect to make some cute purses for the fair. I wouldn’t have time to import from China but that’s ok…surely someone in the UK would make something similar. Ok, ok….someone in Europe? Disaster. I can’t actually source these anywhere BUT China. There were some shiny, not so attractive plastic alternatives but at over £6 per frame, would be way outside the parameters of being able to charge anything sensible to the customer to make the money back let alone with any cover for the fabric and labour.

I took to Twitter and many people recommended 3D printing a frame using a similar design. Not my forte and I don’t own a 3D printer. Then a lovely friend offered to have a go using his 3D printer. He didn’t have a template so he designed one himself. He drew up the designs based on photographs of the one I had already and then reproduced a rough copy. Oh my goodness, the man is a genius. Apart from being a slightly different material and obviously a rough finish, it is identical. He is definitely one to follow on Twitter if you are interested in that sort of thing because he managed to unpick my rambling explanations and even let me take photos of it against a ruler so I didn’t have to panic about the measuring side of things. Thanks Brian!

The original and 3D printed copy. It really is a work of art!

The make itself uses the orange, white and grey BB-8 Star Wars fabric. Only a minimal amount is required so its a really good make for using up odd ends of fat quarters. I chose a grey fabric for the lining. I hadn’t stitched a lining before, so this element didn’t quite go to plan. Instead of seaming the lining separately, I somehow got it in to my head that the lining would simply attach to the outer fabric with a normal seam, forgetting that this would be on show by the time it was turned out. As with so many makes, as I am self taught, its really a case of making something and learning by ‘doing’ (kinesthetic learning).

Oops – a back to front lining. Being self taught is all about trial and error.

At the end of the make, the definitive finishing touch was the BB-8 Lego Star Wars key ring that attached to the little loop on the original frame. It really bought the design on the fabric together with all of the other elements and gave it a real edge – almost like a phone charm (that takes me back a few years and more!). It got me thinking about superhero fabrics matched with corresponding key rings or charms to add an extra ‘something’ to the makes. I think I am going to ask Brian to make a couple in each colour (obviously I’ll pay for his time and resources!) – we need to find a suitable method of screwing the frames together first of all! Long term, importing the frames is altogether cheaper and more efficient – especially if I buy in bulk. However this really saves the day when it comes to finding out if it is indeed something that would be ‘saleable’ by taking them to a real sales situation. Lesson learnt – plan ahead…and then some!

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Pre-Launch Post 2: Big Steps

Well the logo designs are coming in thick and fast now from my husband. We have a panel with 12 designs to go through that we are taking to show some like minded people this weekend for their opinions. It’s been quite difficult making the branding come together when 8-bit and sewing aren’t usually two things you would put in the same situation.

I’ve found a fantastic accounting software called Wave ( which is a very simple to use, free software that is useful for start-ups such as myself. The only thing you get charged for are the payment processing fees (which you would via PayPal in any case) so I’ve been busy adding my services to that and beginning to learn how to generate estimates and invoices.

I’ve also written some terms and conditions for my services. This is really important when a lot of my work will be commissioned. Definitely makes me and any potential client feel more secure if they know exactly where they stand.

I need to produce an inventory of all of my stuff so that I can track when I need to buy more of particular thread colours or fabrics. It will also help me keep a track of the equipment I own so that I don’t go out and purchase something I already have.

Aside from this its pretty much all the legal bits – registering with HMRC, sorting the banking side, checking if I need to pay NI contributions and also updating any agencies that I am going to be self-employed. That’s a really important one to consider so that you don’t miss out on any entitlements but you also don’t receive any sanctions (especially if you claim anything that is means tested – I don’t but I like to cover my back!)

I’m also working hard trying to bring the website together and go back to find photos of anything I’ve made in the past. Some photos are MUCH better quality than others so I’m hoping they will do me a turn until I produce newer things that can be photographed properly.

Thanks for reading!

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Pre-Launch Post 1: Welcome

Welcome to Sew 8 Bit! I don’t launch until August so I want to use the time in the run up to keep you up to date with how the business is coming along.

This is my first business and I’m very nervous but excited. I’ve bought domains and secured social media spaces so far which is a big first step in the journey of the brand. Self employment is ideal for me as I have a young family and autism. Working in this way will allow me to feel useful, earn money and contribute to society a bit without causing myself undue worry, stress or anxiety. The dot com domain will be patched over the WordPress branded domain a little closer to launch to keep my costs down a bit just in case things get delayed.

This week, I’ve been researching the complex world of the self employed person including HMRC, Tax, Self Assessment, Branding etc etc etc. Little bit freaked out about doing my accounts and taxes but I’m sure I will learn very quickly. Building the brand is pretty much being taken care of by my husband using his background in graphic design.

I’m self taught in sewing for the most part. I’ve embarked on a distance learning sewing diploma which has both theory and practical modules. Mercifully have passed the first 3 I’ve submitted so I know I’m not totally useless 😀

A little more about me? Well I taught primary school children for 10 years before leaving to have my son and reconsider my options (it wasn’t doing my health much good). After being loaned a sewing machine for a project I was quickly hooked. Iv’e been a cross stitcher (as in sewing crosses not being a grumpy sewer…usually lol!) since a child so I had that string to my bow and it all came together from there. I also occasionally dabble in other crafts such as Hama Beads, drawing and knitting.

I’m looking forward to the venture and in keeping you updated about the progress towards the launch. Until next time!